L’Oreal, Wolf Trap, Nestle, Gingrich: Intellectual Property

L’Oreal SA, the French beauty-care company, sued the owners of Coppertone and Neutrogena, claiming their sunscreens use patented ingredients.

L’Oreal sued Merck & Co., the maker of Coppertone, and Johnson & Johnson, which owns Neutrogena Corp., for patent infringement in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, on Jan. 27.

In dispute are parents 5,576,354, issued in November 1996, and 5,587,150, issued in December 1996. Both cover compounds used to block the skin’s exposure to ultraviolet-light damage, and, according to the patents, both are more stable and provide longer-lasting protection than other sunblocking compounds.

According to the National Cancer Institute, at least 32 percent of all adults over 18 regularly use some sort of sunscreen product.

The “acts of infringement have caused and will continue to cause damage to L’Oreal,” the Paris-based company said in court papers.

Last year, L’Oreal earned 2.51 billion euros ($3.29 billion) on revenue of 20.3 billion euros, according to information compiled by Bloomberg.

L’Oreal seeks unspecified damages after a jury trial, a ruling that the patents are infringed and an order to stop further use of its inventions.

Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Seema Kumar and Merck spokeswoman Amy Rose didn’t immediately return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The cases are L’Oreal v. Johnson & Johnson, 1:12-cv-00098, and L’Oreal v. Merck & Co., 1:12-CV-00099, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

HTC Must Face IPCom Patent-Infringement Claim in U.S. Court

HTC Corp., the world’s largest maker of mobile phones using Google Inc.’s Android system, must face a patent-infringement claim brought by IPCom GmbH in a U.S. court.

An appeals court said yesterday that a lower court judge in 2010 was wrong to invalidate an IPCom patent that the closely held company was using against HTC in a dispute over mobile-device base stations. The case is being sent back to the judge, who can consider additional arguments on the validity of the patent, according to the ruling posted on website of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

HTC, based in Taoyuan, Taiwan, sued Pullach, Germany-based IPCom in 2008 to challenge the company’s patent 6,879,830, which covers a way to maintain service as a mobile phone moves from one coverage area to another. The companies have sued each other in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.

IPCom is seeking royalties from a family of mobile-technology patents it acquired in 2007 from Robert Bosch GmbH, the world’s largest automotive supplier. IPCom bought the patents after Bosch failed to license them to Nokia Oyj in 2003.

In addition to patent claims against HTC, IPCom has sued stores in Germany that sell HTC’s 3G mobile phones.

The case is HTC Corp. v. IPCom GmbH, 11-1004, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower court case is HTC Corp. v. IPCom GmbH, 08cv1897, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington).

Google Chafes as Lawyers It Hired Sue Company’s Android Partners

Google Inc. is sparring with a law firm it’s been using since 2008 after discovering lawyers there began representing a patent-licensing business that sued the company’s Android partners last month.

Google claims Philadelphia’s Pepper Hamilton LLP never provided notice that the law firm was hired by Digitude Innovations LLC, which filed patent-infringement complaints against handset makers, including Android partners HTC Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Pepper Hamilton should be disqualified from the case, Google said in a Jan. 27 request to the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, where one of the complaints was filed.

“In short, Pepper Hamilton is accusing its own client of infringement,” Mountain View, California-based Google said in the filing. “Pepper Hamilton should not be allowed to continue alleging infringement against the products and interests of its current client.”

Google, which has used Pepper Hamilton to help it apply for patents related to its Android mobile operating system, accused the law firm of disloyalty and said confidential information it shared creates conflicts of interest in the Digitude case. With so much patent litigation among technology companies there is bound to be some overlap among lawyers, said Scott Daniels, a partner with Westerman Hattori Daniels in Washington.

“Conflicts are hard on law firms,” Daniels said in an interview. “You don’t want to anger your clients.”

Pepper Hamilton lawyers who are representing Alexandria, Virginia-based Digitude didn’t return telephone messages seeking comment about Google’s complaint. A spokesman for the law firm in Philadelphia had no immediate comment. The firm’s website says it has about 500 lawyers.

Pepper Hamilton represents Google in efforts to get more than 50 patents, including 12 directed at Android, according to the filing.

Google said it unsuccessfully sought to resolve the issue, and Pepper Hamilton tried to “fire” Google as a client, the company said in the filing without elaborating. Digitude is opposing the request to have Pepper Hamilton disqualified from the ITC case, Google said.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Portable Communication Devices, 337-827, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

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Wolf Trap, Barns of Rose Hill Settle Trademark Infringement Suit

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, which owns and operates the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in collaboration with the National Park Service, has settled a trademark infringement suit with a Virginia performing arts venue.

The suit, filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, accused The Barns of Rose Hill Inc. of infringing Wolf Trap’s “The Barns” trademarks. According to court papers, Wolf Trap registered the phrase as a trademark and has used it since 1981. It says it has made “a substantial investment” in advertising and promoting events held at its sites and using “The Barns” marks.

The Barns of Rose Hill, based in Berryville, Virginia, was accused of also using the term “The Barns” to promote services that are “virtually identical” to those offered under the mark at Wolf Trap, according to the complaint.

The notice of dismissal was filed Jan. 27, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Rose Hill group posted a notice on its website saying the dispute had been settled with a “mutually agreeable outcome.”

Ann Lesman, chairwoman of the Barns of Rose Hill, told the Clarke Daily News that her organization is dropping “The” from its name, and will also include the phrase “a cultural center for the Shenandoah Valley” in its promotional material.

Wolf Trap is represented by James R. Davis II, Anthony V. Lupo and Ross Q. Panko of Washington-based Arent Fox LLP.

The case is Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts v. The Barns of Rose Hill Inc., 1:11-cv-01352-CMYH -JFA, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

Nestle India’s ‘A+’ Brand Raises Dairy Marketing Group’s Ire

Nestle India Ltd., which manufactures Nestle brand-name products in India, is involved in a trademark dispute with an Indian dairy cooperative marketing group, the Times of India reported.

The dispute, with the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, is over Nestle’s use of “A+” with its milk and yogurt products, according to the Times.

The dairy group has claimed Nestle infringed the “Amul A+” brand it uses for cheese, and “Amul Calci+” for high-calcium milk, the newspaper reported.

A Nestle India official told the Times the company had purchased the “A+” trademark from another company and the brand “was legally assigned to use in accordance with accepted practice.”

For more trademark news, click here.


Gingrich Sued for Using ‘Eye of the Tiger’ at Campaign Stops

Newt Gingrich, fighting for the Republican Party’s nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, was sued for unauthorized use of “Eye of the Tiger,” the Grammy-winning theme song from “Rocky III.”

Rude Music Inc., an Illinois corporation owned by Frank Sullivan, a co-author of the song, sued the candidate yesterday in federal court in Chicago, seeking a court order blocking Gingrich’s unauthorized use of the song at campaign rallies. Rude Music is also seeking unspecified money damages.

Newt 2012 Inc. and the American Conservative Union, a political advocacy group, are also named as defendants in the five-page complaint.

“Newt 2012’s and Mr. Gingrich’s unauthorized public performance or inducement of or contribution to the public performance of the copyrighted work infringes Rude Music’s copyright,” according to the complaint.

Performed by the rock band Survivor, of which Sullivan was a founding member, “Eye of the Tiger” was released in 1982, topped the U.S. pop music charts and won a Grammy Award. It was also nominated for an Academy Award.

R.C. Hammond, a spokesman for the Gingrich campaign, didn’t immediately reply to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

Among the other political figures who have been accused of unauthorized use of music in their campaigns over the years have been Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, for his use of “Stand by Me;” New Zealand’s National Party, for using a track that sounded like one belonging to the band Coldplay; and Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who was accused of infringing Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty.”

The case is Rude Music Inc. v. Newt 2012 Inc., 1:12-cv-00640, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

For copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Animal-Rights Group Hail Downfall of Florida’s ‘Ag Gag’ Measure

Both the Humane Society of the U.S. and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have hailed the Florida legislature’s rejection of proposed legislation that would make the taking of photos on a farm without the owner’s permission a potential trade-secrets violation, the Florida Independent reported.

The measure was aimed at the gathering of information leading to exposes of unsafe working conditions or animal abuse, the animal-rights groups claimed and the Independent reported.

A committee of Florida’s lower house voted to strike the so-called “Ag Gag” provision from pending legislation and the state senate postponed a consideration of the same bill, according to the Independent.

A Florida egg producer had been behind the “Ag Gag” provision, the Independent reported.

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